Here’s Everything You Bros Need To Know About The Water Crisis In Flint, Michigan

By 01.27.16

Many of you may know the town of Flint, Michigan from the documentary Roger & Me, about the brutal economic depression the town suffered during the decline of the auto industry. In the 1960s, it was the second largest town in Michigan, and one of jewels of the auto manufacturing industry. By the beginning of the 2000s, it was $30 million in debt and had lost 70,000 jobs from its peak employment.

The town never really recovered, perpetually in debt and in need of support from the state ever since

Now, it’s been hit by perhaps an even bigger crisis than unemployment, with the discovery that its water supply is contaminated with lead.

The problem began when the town decided to tap the Flint River for water for the town, instead of relying on water from Detroit and Lake Huron like it had been. The river was highly polluted from the town’s manufacturing days, but officials insisted it was safe to use.

It wasn’t, it was highly corrosive, and caused lead to leach from the town’s pipes. Citizens were drinking it for 18 months. Right now, it’s estimated over 10,000 residents are suffering the effects of lead poisoning, a highly toxic element that can cause irreversible brain damage.

The root of the problem was the city’s insistence that it did not need to treat its water supply to prevent lead from leaching out of the town’s pipes into the water supply.

Many in charge willingly ignored signs that the town was poisoning its residents.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s top Midwest official said her department knew as early as April about the lack of corrosion controls in Flint’s water supply — a situation that likely put residents at risk for lead contamination — but said her hands were tied in bringing the information to the public.

Starting with inquiries made in February, the federal agency battled Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality behind the scenes for at least six months over whether Flint needed to use chemical treatments to keep lead lines and plumbing connections from leaching into drinking water. The EPA did not publicize its concern that Flint residents’ health was jeopardized by the state’s insistence that such controls were not required by law.

On January 15th, President Obama declared a state of emergency, and the National Guard is now helping to distribute water safe to drink and bathe with to residents, but the effects of this could be felt for decades.


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